Hello dear Prototypo backers!
We have a little something for all of you coming back from vacation, and all of us who barely had any:
- we’ve rebuilt Prototypo from the ground up and the latest beta is online on app.prototypo.io (use your existing username and password),
- we’ve opened a Slack room where you can chat directly with members of the team: slackin.prototypo.io (during office hours, central european time, mainly),
- and did you notice we've redesigned our home-page? www.prototypo.io
More than a year has passed since the end of our KickStarter campaign and the release of the first beta. We quickly realized that a lot of work was still required to meet designers’ needs: a tool that is easy to use, that allows to create original and personal typefaces of high quality.
What we’ve done so far
Numerous trials and errors led us to use skeletons as the bases of the letters’ drawing, but keep contours to draw the serifs. This gives us the best of both world: the overall shape of the letter remains coherent, and it can be customized with a wide range of expressive serifs.
More fonts, more fun
We’ve partnered with our type-designer friends from Production Type: they’ve produced two original typefaces just for us, and we’re turning them into parametric typefaces. Prototypo now produces fonts of higher esthetic quality, and the possibilities of creation have been doubled.
We also developed and released plumin.js: a piece of code that allows to create fonts with code, right in the browser. In previous versions of Prototypo, text previews were limited to a few words that couldn’t be edited directly. Now thanks to plumin.js, we generate true OpenType fonts in real time and can apply it to full paragraphs of editable text. We also take advantage of multi-core processors found in all modern computers to do this heavy work in the background, without slowing down the rest of the application.
The modularity of Prototypo's foundations allowed us to display a live demo of the app on our new homepage. Check it out!
Finally we’ve redesigned the entire user interface: it’s now possible to view both the letter, word and paragraph previews side by side. And we’ve adopted a prominent lateral menu that is more convenient and that prepares the ground for the next features we want to develop.
We’re not done yet!
Today is an important day as we feel confident enough to show the result of months of work that happened mainly behind the curtain. We will first focus on using your feedback to improve the user-interface. In parallel, we will continue working on the first two built-in typefaces (adding more glyphs and alternates). Another important missing feature is the personal library, which will allow to save different settings for different fonts.
From cool to must-have
Designers demand original and personal typefaces perfectly suited to their creation, and we won’t be satisfied until Prototypo offers exactly that. We need to multiply the possibilities of creation in three different ways: by providing additional built-in parametric typefaces, by allowing users to manipulate and customize the letters manually, and ultimately by letting them create entirely new parametric typefaces (the latter part involves teaching designers to write code, which we know is possible, because we all enjoy a bit of challenge).
To create the perfect typeface, designers should be able to see it right where it’s going to be used. It will be easy to integrate Prototypo into web-developers tools and popular CMSs such as WordPress. The following step will be to provide plugins for the Adobe Creative Suite Cloud (did we mention we enjoyed challenges?).
Along the way, we want to take full-advantage of being web-based to enable designers to collaborate with each others, share, remix and even monetize their creations (these are the easy parts! — read challenging).
Chrome and Firefox only, for now
Prototypo uses cutting edge features of web browsers to generate OpenType fonts. We’ve decided to focus on making it reliable and fast in Chrome and Firefox first, before trying to make it work everywhere. Safari and Internet Explorer users will be prompted to use another browser.
If Prototypo’s typefaces had an ingredient list, it’d be something like: «10% logic, 30% geometry, 60% code. Free of artificial sweeteners, flavors & colors». Anyway, since Prototypo consists mainly of hand-written code, it isn’t exempt of bugs that cause letter shapes to, sometimes, go wild. Also, right now letters are made of multiple parts (stems, arcs, serifs, etc.) that are not yet combined when exported. This can cause white/empty lines to appear at the junction of two components. Be assured that we’re aware of these problems and working on it : )
Spacing and kerning
When designing a typeface, defining the spaces around letters (spacing) and between two letters (kerning) is as repetitive and boring as it is essential. A lot of research has already been done to simplify these tasks, but we feel that the current approach don’t apply to Prototypo. Spacing and kerning should be done in separate programs such as Robofont, Glyphs or the new FontForge, until we figure out a better way.
Thank you in advance!